Loud…

loud print vintage dress

 

It occurred to me recently that if you are not from the South, you might not understand how we talk. Words that normally have just one clear meaning for other regions- may be couched in southern code- like loud. With that one exception of our yelling at SEC football games…we teach our children to speak kindly, softly and as quiet as possible. Even if you’re driving home an important point, use non-offensive language- please.

My favorite example, when I am challenged on this point- is my friend Linda. For years, Linda was the Director of a sizeable rambunctious group of kindergarteners… when she wanted to get the attention of one, a few or the whole bunch of wild Indians; Linda would lower her voice to a whisper instead of getting louder! So, yes- Southerners use the word ‘loud’ just like the rest of the country. But there is loud like talk radio- and there is loud like a printed dress and again there is loud- like perfume-here’s how we respond:

  • Loud Talk-‘Well, bless his heart, do you think he’s deaf or does he just talk loud because he’s coarse and common, or doesn’t know better?’
  • ‘Turn that music down, it’s so loud I can’t hear myself think!’
  • If we really want to get sinister, we say- ‘You’d better quieten down, you’re talkin’ loud enough to raise the dead!’
  • Loud Style-‘Now why in the world would her momma let her go out in that loud print? As pale as she is, she just can’t stand up to it- in fact, I’m not sure I know anybody who could wear loud prints effectively.’
  •  ‘That necktie the preacher had on was so loud, you couldn’t hear a blessed word he was sayin’. Bless his heart, his wife should’ve known better than to let him go shopping by himself.’
  • ‘The black dress was fine but those hot pink earbobs and matching high heels, well, it was a cryin’ shame- it was so loud it ruined the whole look. And the nerve…the nerve of her wearing her grandmother’s pearls with that outfit! Mattie Rae would roll over in her grave, if she could see it’. *The scarier version is ‘Mattie Rae’s is twirling in her grave!
  • Loud Odors- ‘Well, I guess we’ll know for a week that she cooked collards! The smell is so loud, somebody needs to crack the windows and doors open-now.’
  • ‘Now why, would anybody order those loud oriental lilies for a funeral blanket? By the time, the funeral parlor’s shut up all night, smellin’ up to high heavens. For a solemn occasion it’s roses, those lilies are so loud they just ruin the whole effect.’
  • ‘Honestly, we couldn’t taste the food for those loud cinnamon red hot candles she had burning, right smack dab in the middle of the table!’
  •  ‘If she keeps wearing that loud perfume, she’ll be sending the wrong signals- only a gardenia bush full of blooms or a streetwalker smells that loud.’ collage of fragrances

Since fragrance is one of my specialities- Let me help you out a little bit here… I worked for some of the finest fragrance companies in the world, Oscar de la Renta, Chanel, L’air du Temps, Bvlgari,Tiffany, YSL and more…  I worked for European fragrance lines, which still use real flowers and essential oils for the basis of their perfumes. Americans engineer synthetic fragrances so well you can barely tell the difference except for how it reacts on human skin.  Since I reeked of fragrance by the time I came home from work- I developed sensitivities to fragrance and hardly ever wear it except on special occasions, which I have come to believe is the appropriate use of perfume. Women no longer ‘layer’ their fragrance and shouldn’t…with powder, lotion and spray. Here is what most women want to know…how do I know which fragrance is right for me? First, my responses will be for European fragrances, the rules are unclear on synthetics.

  • First when choosing a fragrance you must understand that your nose cannot process more than 3 fragrances at a time. You can clear the nose by deeply sniffing coffee beans.
  • The best and most effective way to choose European fragrances is by your skin tone.
  • The rule is: the darker the skintone- the darker the color of the fragrance (in the bottle) you will be able to wear, without it getting too ‘loud‘.
  •  If you are very fair skinned and get ‘pink’ in the sun- go for a fragrance that is almost clear in the bottle. If you really love a fragrance that is darker than clear…do not buy perfume or parfum
  • For a lighter version of a fragrance you love, buy the eau de toilette or the even lighter cologne, each one has a descending amount of the actual perfume in it.
  • For an even lighter fragrance consider body crème, lotion or even soap.
  • The best perfumes have a top note, a middle note, this is the heart of the perfume and a base note– which has the most irritants in it.
  •  A perfume that smells good in the bottle reacts with the skin’s natural oils and will definitely smell different as body heat distributes the fragrance and causes the fragrance to bloom– or get ‘loud‘.
  • Buy the smallest version of fragrance available- European fragrances are perishable.
  • Store your fragrance in a dark cool place to extend the oils and the shelf life.
  • Speaking of shelf life- as you age, your skin is more delicate and thins out- you may need to adjust the strength of your fragrance or even consider a change. This is also true at various life stages – expectant mothers or change of life etc…
  • Know what you are allergic to! If you have seasonal allergies in the spring- florals may set you off, if you are allergic to live Christmas trees- fragrances with cedar, pine, bark or wood resins may not be for you, the same is true if you have allergies in the autumn- scents with patchouli (moss) or various leaves which we associate with fungus. Citrus scents are the least allergen producing. Allergens will usually be found in the base notes and will be listed on the box.
  • And if you cannot wear fragrance at all? One of my all time favorite scents is Jergen’s Lotion!  Just for heaven’s sake…don’t go cheap and don’t get loud!

Love y’all, Camellia

P.S. I met Oscar de la Renta once, he told me he loved Southern women because they are not afraid to be feminine! Gotta love a man like that! He walked around his mother’s garden in Santa Domingo and picked a bouquet of flowers and herbs – which became the classic Oscar de la Renta fragrance!

Christ the Redeemer…

clouds statue of christ rio

Cristos  Redentor, Mount Corcovado, Brazil

As the 2016 Summer Olympics close in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil- I will always remember among all of the inspiring competitions- that one of the most dramatic scenes of the Games was from high above the city, where stands the Statue of Christ the Redeemer. It is one of the new wonders of the world- standing 98 feet tall, with an arm width of 92 feet since 1931, this is the tallest statue of Christ in the world. With His Cross in His Right Hand and His World in His Left Hand- this is a constant reminder that He is on the side of humanity; with all of its flaws. He loves and embraces us all in victory or defeat.

It seemed fitting for our Sunday Inspiration to listen to the ever inspiring Cuban born immigrant to the United States- internationally famous Jaimie Jorge, as he plays his violin in Brazil; 1924 Gold Medalist Eric Liddell’s last requested song…Be Still My Soul’.

Ain’t that pretty? Hope you’ve had a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

Christ the Redeemer

Jaimie Jorge

Champions 2…

thLVYH4CPFbeach scene from chariots

In your lifetime, you will see lots of winners-only a few can be called Champions. On or off the field, whether winning or losing-Champions are those winners who are unforgettable.

Joy. Valiance. Poise. Passion. Determination. Courage. 

Those are my favorite words to describe a Champion-Yes, competitive, strength and skill are also part of a champion’s tool kit. Barbaros and Eric Liddell  were in the winner’s circle. Off the field- they lived their lives with  joy, poise, passion, courage and determination- they were Champions!

Barbaros’ trainer, Michael Matz competed in the Olympics in 1976 and 1992 then in 1996 Matz helped his equestrian teammates win the Silver Medal. In 2006, Matz said he knew Barbaros was special-the horse joyously won the Kentucky Derby- then was frolicking in the grass with joy the next Monday when no one was watching!   Barbaros’ veterinarian surgeon, Dr.Dean Richardson, wanted to be an actor before he found his passion for horses. A horse named Barbaros put Dean Richardson in front of the cameras! In press conferences-the veterinarian said he was amazed at Barbaros’ courage and poise, for 8 long months. Champions have an indefinable star quality – you may see lots of winners, you’ll never forget champions!

 ‘In the dust of defeat as well as the laurels of victory there is a glory to be found if one has done his best.’ 1924 Gold Medal winner-and Scottish Missionary to China -Eric Liddell

eric liddell

Unforgettable- that’s what a Champion is. Soon after Liddell arrived in Paris to compete- he preached a sermon, from Isaiah 40: 26,29-31- those famous words ‘They  shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow tired.’  Harold Abraham, Liddell’s fellow countryman, the privileged son of a wealthy Polish immigrant, financier Isaac Abraham, was Jewish. Harold was a winning sprinter and long jumper from youth through his years studying law at Cambridge . He continued to be a runner- but was upbraided for hiring a coach; it was considered ungentlemanly for an amateur to hire a professional coach. The two men won races in Great Britain before competing in the 1924 Olympics. Abraham won the Silver Medal in the 100 meter and Liddell won the Gold in the 400 meter. Liddell went to China to do his life’s work as a missionary. Abraham continued to compete and in 1925, he broke his leg ending his career in competitive sports- ironically, his brother Sir Adolphe Abrahams was the founder of British Sports Medicine. Harold Abraham became a sports journalist and commentator for 40 years.

Eric Liddell was sent to a Japanese prison camp called Wiehsein Interment Camp in Shantung Provence, China-after Pearl Harbor. Norman Cliff recalls when he arrived as a POW, there was a Scotsman who had won a gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. The man was Eric Liddell- tall, tanned and very thin and always smiling. Liddell had permission to teach the young boys science and physical education.  His wife and children had been sent to Canada in 1941, he was captured in 1943. Eric deeply missed his own children; teaching children in the camp helped him endure captivity. In 1945, a mere five months before the war ended…Norman Cliff, received word that Eric Liddell wanted Cliff to play ‘Finlandia’, the song of peace– the melody is also the hymn, ‘Be Still My Soul’.

Be still my soul, The Lord is on thy side…leave to Thy God to order and provide…Be still, my soul- thy best, thy Heavenly Friend…Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.’

Less than a week later, Eric Liddell died. The British and American armies liberated the Weihsein Interment Camp on August 17, 1945. Eric Liddell was born in China, joyfully ran the race life set before him, then was buried in China. Eric Liddell was a Champion.

British screenwriter Colin Welland, immortalized Eric Liddell and his teammate Harold Abraham, in his 1981 Oscar winning film- Chariots of Fire. The success of the film was as unlikely as the pairing of Olympic medal winners- a wealthy Jew, who ran to be visible to Anglo Saxon society and an Anglo Saxon preacher who ran to honor God. Welland wanted to be an actor, his father insisted that he become a teacher, he was a professor of Art. The screenplay, a historic drama- must have had the qualities of a Champion– for Hollywood to produce it.   Welland chose the name- Chariots of Fire, while listening to Britain’s stirring hymn, Jerusalem– from the chorus refrain- ‘Bring me my Chariot of Fire’… th2MTLOYT4chariots of fire movie pic

Winning 4 Academy Awards- including Best Screenplay and Best Original Score. The famous Greek composer, Vangelis wrote the well known soundtrack. Composing since the age of 4, Vangelis is not a trained musician- he is self taught and cannot read or write musical notation! Vangelis plays almost exclusively on electronic instruments. He says: ‘…I think that technology and music have always been together…music is science.’ Vangelis is a Champion.

 Tommy Emmanuel is known as ‘the world’s greatest living acoustic guitarist’…the defining quality I found in him is JOY. He plays with joyful abandon- would do it if no one was listening or watching! At CAAS in Nashville recently, he circled up with a small group of amateurs with the same enthusiasm as onstage. The international tour schedule for the 61 year old Australian guitarist reveals his stamina. He will perform at the Lyric Theater in Birmingham Alabama! His music is indefinable- he played with Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Chet Atkins!  Tommy  Emmanuel said the greatest moment of his career was playing with his brother Phil at the Sydney Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics! It seemed only fitting to close my treatise to Champions for you to hear-Tommy Emmanuel play Chariots of Fire with Japanese rock star Kyoji Yamamoto electronically as Vangelis prefers- the video is not good, but close your eyes…and listen.

Love y’all, Camellia

Champions…

barbaro statue at nightWe all love champions. The Olympics brings out our love for champions. We love to see how honed skill, willpower and flesh meld together into a champion. And there is one quality that I particularly thrill to see in a champion- joy. No, not the joy of winning, the joy in the doing- the sheer joy of running the race. The- ‘I would do this if no one was watching’ kind of joy; now to me that is a real champion. I’ve been watching for that joy in the 2016 Olympics, some have won and others have lost but to me? When I’ve seen it- I’ve seen a champion. It’s a rare quality. Several years ago, we were in Louisville Kentucky, I remember it well- it was the week after the Kentucky Derby…Louisville was still decked out- we stayed at the famous Brown’s Hotel, we took a tour out to Churchill Downs…it was very impressive; it was the first time I had ever heard about the champion racehorses who were buried on the grounds- the guide said the head, the heart and the hooves of the horses were buried along with the cremated remains. The head for determination- the will to win; the heart for courage; the hooves for speed to run the race. barbaro wins!Barbaros wins the 2006 Kentucky Derby!

Only one horse is actually buried at the racetrack- Barbaros. His story is one of great promise- after winning  the 2006 Kentucky Derby, he was considered a shew in for the Triple Crown. He did not- at the Preakness, something terrible happened and he had to be pulled out of the race. I know nothing about veterinary medicine, but the bones in one of his hind legs had to be repaired in more than 20 places, then became infected- the condition he had was a death knell.  His surgery is still groundbreaking and provides useful information for those who care for horses. Barbaros lived for 8 months afterwards- his head and his heart- his joy, courage and determination never flagged, until  the last two days of his life. When that light went out, his owners and veterinarian knew he was suffering terribly and could not be saved. His grieving owners gained permission to bury Barbaros at Churchill Downs and commissioned Alexa King of Lexington, Kentucky to create a life-size bronze of Barbaros. Look at the above photograph of Barbaros winning the Kentucky Derby! All four of his hooves are off the ground! The bronze that Alexa King created is a gorgeous engineering marvel! Look at the opening photograph and you will see the 1500 pound lifesize horse has all four feet off the ground! The sculptor also managed to capture Barbaros in action, in spirit and as the guide pointed out- even the determination and joy!

alexa king-artist of barbaro bronze statue‘When I mold clay in my hand I sense the movement of a horse!’ Alexa King

At the base of the statue is a quote-

God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His Pleasure’

Eric Liddell

Eric Liddell was a gold medal winner in the 1924 Paris Olympiad. He was dubbed the ‘Flying Scotsman’. He won the 400 meter, which he had not trained to run; against all odds- he won over the highly favored Americans. Like Barbaros, he could practically fly! Eric Liddel was of Scottish descent but was born in China to missionary parents.

While he was being educated in Great Britain, he developed a love of running. God had indeed made him fast. He also loved education and science- he became a teacher and a devout follower of the teachings of the Church of Scotland, with the intention of returning to China, to join his parents in their missionary work. Eric Liddell ran to honor God…eric liddell the runner


‘Seeing we are encompassed by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…’ Hebrew 12:1-2

to be continued…

You won’t want to miss Part 2! Love y’all, Camellia

http://www.derbymuseum.org  http://www.equinebronze.com http://www.ericliddell.org

Crowning Glory…

 

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To Southern women, our hair is our Crowning Glory…So, it’s a big decision whenever we start to go grey…for redheads or blondes, the decision is not so dramatic- it’s just silver threads among the gold or copper! For brunettes, it can be quite traumatic. Take me for instance…from childhood, my hair was as close to black as you could get and my eyes are this weird shade of green- very light, sort of chartreuse or lizard green…My great aunt Trix- exclaimed regularly…‘Isn’t she unusual?‘ and I never ever thought she meant that in a good way.

When the grey hairs started coming in more regularly than I thought was necessary…a decision had to be made.  Dark hair and dark eyes are a better aging combo than dark hair and light eyeswe start looking washed out. And who wants to look washed out?  That’s tantamount to looking washed up. In the South- looking washed out is almost as scary as that Ptomaine Poisoning our mothers were always telling us we would get if we ate at uninspected places. First, I followed my grandmother’s ancient advice- ‘If you look bad, get a permanent wave.’ I guess I thought if the grey hairs were coiled up tight with the others they wouldn’t be so noticeable- not true.

So amid the unsolicited advice- ‘Get that hair dyed’…and solicited advice from my beauty operator- ‘let’s put a few streaks in it’; I began the transition. I went lighter, had a few streaks put in, I looked like a blonde polecat. Back to the bottle again. When my book was published I was in the frame of mind to look as young as I could. I told the hairdresser to just do it a little lighter than my natural color which was dark brown. Dyed dark brown hair color was a pure vanity decision for the book cover.  Soon, reality sank in, I was dealing with roots. Now, Southerners have an unnatural fascination with our ancestors- our roots…however roots near your scalp isn’t pretty. We may want to know who your people are, but we don’t care whether your string of pearls is real or cultured; nor whether your hair is natural or dyed. The main thing is, Southern girls want to be cultured and real pretty, especially when it comes to our Crowning Glory.

Next- I had a semi-permanent wrench put on it, and I sat for hours with R2D2 foil squares, the pole cat look returned. I started looking in magazines and online, a good many famous people- namely movie stars of a certain age…were going naturally grey. Emmie Lou Harris, Linda Evans, Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Anderson Cooper, Diane Keaton, Ali MacGraw and who can forget Meryl Streep’s silver locks?

Of course we all know that men get ‘distinguished looking’ with grey hair- I don’t hear those same sentiments about women’s grey hair. To my surprise, there were articles written about ‘grey being the new black’ with stunning examples.

Then, a blogger I truly admire- Vicki Archer, of French Essence-beautifully let her readers know of her decision to go grey. Something clicked when I read her article. I too, was going to go grey. Now, I certainly didn’t want folks to say- ‘well, she’s really let herself go’ or ‘bless her heart she sure has aged’ or ‘she needs to dye that hair’…after all a woman’s hair is her Crowning Glory- it’s biblical. Following the hairdresser’s suggestions, she warned me it would take a long time, I said I was prepared or thought I was. imageA local magazine called and wanted to do a story on my book- I could hardly have a photograph done with ‘roots’ showing! I listened to the ancient voices in my head…‘Once a woman gets a certain age- she can’t wear long stringy hair’…I had a semi-permanent wrench put on and as you can see, I had my hair cut it as short as possible! After over two years…I am finally natural again, I also decided that I missed my hair having a little length to it. When I started blogging the advice was to use a professional photograph, the book cover photograph was the only one I had…but really Darlin’ I need to update-morton tims event 1 004

It’s not a professional photograph and who knows if I will ever figure out how to change it across all media- but I’m going for ‘truth in advertising’.  And I’m gon’ try to keep some color on my face, lipstick on my lips and remember that a smile is the best face-lift. I may be too old to successfully flirt, but can always flatter. I know I’ll never get tired of hearing or telling funny stories. The pearls might not always be real, but you can never have too much culture. No matter what color it is or how it got that way-A woman’s hair truly is her Crowning Glory. For me- Salt and Pepper is the Spice of Life!

Love y’all, Camellia

Marching Southerners…

For the Love of the Game-

“In a region where fans bleed their team’s colors- fall’s favorite game still takes our breath away. I know why I love it. It goes back to nights in Paul Snow Stadium, when the Fighting Gamecocks of Jacksonville State whipped Troy…We never looked away at halftime. With a great pounding of drums and sounding of brass, the Marching Southerners, in perfect step, would sweep onto the grass. They played music from our history…And the beautiful Marching Ballerinas, in red velvet, kicked those white boots high in the air. Why do we love football? How could we not?” Rick Bragg, Alabama author


In Alabama, football season is sacriligious-ly sacred. It is considered tacky and  inconsiderate, to get married during football season. If you feel you must ‘fly away’ – please stay on life support until after football season, otherwise please note: funerals can be delayed so as not to inconvenience football fans. If a southern lady is in the family way and told her due date coincides with football season, the gynecologist is made to understand that labor must be induced well ahead of the tailgate party. That’s just the way it is.

We teach our children to speak softly and courteously with one exception: ‘You can yell your heart out at football games!‘ In Alabama, our children know how important the Iron Bowl is and you won’t find it in the china cabinet!  We expect our children from infancy to love football, watch football and participate in football- whether it is on the field, on the sidelines or in the stands- and by that I mean:

  • Play Football, be a trainer or be a water boy
  • Be a cheerleader or in a pep squad
  • Participate in a Marching Band!

Everyone knows Alabama’s football teams spawn Heisman Trophy Winners and National Championships! But did you know that the ‘Best Band in America’ is right here in Alabama? Yes, it is. The band became famous on it’s own, then Alabama writer Rick Bragg extolled the JSU Marching Southerners in his book- ‘It’s All Over but the Shouting’ and continues to do so as a columnist for Southern Living Magazine. If you don’t think Jacksonville State’s football program- a recent National Football Champion in their division and the Marching Southerners are intertwined- just watch this:

I am a Marching Southerner parent- with 6 years of some of the most exciting performances I have ever seen on the field, at a Broadway Show or concert, I consider it to be a privilege beyond measure.  Even if the football team wasn’t winning- the Marching Southerners were! I was actually a band parent for 14 years- starting in junior high, high school and all the way through their college years. What marching band does for students is nothing short of amazing – they learn the life lessons of being on time, having your instrument and clothes in order, being prepared, working as a team, learning music– which will stay with them for a lifetime. Unlike sports, you don’t ‘age out’ as a musician. And- marching band students learn – Mathematics, Sociology, Foreign Languages, Physical Education and History! When my children were in high school, we first became acquainted with the power of the Marching Southerners at band festivals. The Southerners were the exhibition band- inspiring teenaged musicians to play and play well-watching stunning performances which were not half time shows! That’s what the Southerners do- their motto is ‘Changing lives one show at a time’. The current Director of Bands is Dr. Ken Bodiford, he started out at JSU playing a big tuba, called a 20J- these instruments weigh 55 pounds!droppedImage jsu 20j's

The drum line is legendary, and though never confirmed or denied, the movie, Drum Line- was reported to have used JSU Marching Southerners as one of their ‘reference’ bands! I could go on and on- the brass section, the clarinets, the Marching Ballerinas- all are precision based and these are the musicians and music educators of the future! Students from all over the region, the United States and beyond play for this marching band! The Marching Southerners will celebrate their 60th anniversary this year! So, to honor that and also to give you a wonderfully loud taste of the South- please watch as much as you dare of the 1999 Bands of America Grand Nationals performance- there are many more up to date- but only a few videos in which both of my beautiful daughters are on the field! Blow Southerners! Blow!  Love y’all, Camellia

 

Congratulations to Dr. Ken Bodiford, Director of Bands, JSU Marching Southerners on 23 years of directing the finest band program in America!

Rick Bragg Southern Journal – http://southernliving.com/community

‘All Over but the Shouting’ by Rick Bragg is available at Amazon.com and major booksellers

Southern Living magazine- http://southernliving.com

Drum Line- the movie is also available on Amazon.com

visit: http://www.marchingsoutherners.org

 

 

Grits…

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Grits. Simple. Unadorned. In the South, if you truly grew up here, there is a primal instinct to crave Grits. People don’t understand this outside of the region, in fact you may not even be able to find Grits on the grocery shelves in other regions of the country, much less the world. I have a friend whose daughter moved to Los Angeles a decade or so ago, who would whine so pitifully for grits that her mother bought and sent her a bag of grits from time to time. The same thing happened when a friend’s sister moved to New York around the same time frame- ‘Well, I guess she’s homesick, she wants me to send her a bag of grits.’ To be fair, some of the great chefs have taken a low class food like grits and have elevated them to a delicacy once known as breakfast grits for fishermen or laborers near the coastal areas of the south- to Shrimp and Grits, but if a poll were taken I would be willing to bet these same chefs in major cities outside of the South would never eat Grits for breakfast! In the South, field hands to fine gentlemen, get it- they want and expect Grits for breakfast! From nursery food, to sick beds, to hearty men’s breakfasts, and ladies brunches- you will always find Grits on the savory side of the menu, never the sweet.  I can’t say it any better than Alabama girls, Deborah Ford and Edie Hand in their ‘GRITS Handbook’ *-

‘Grits are eaten with butter, gravy or cheese- never sugar.’image

Y’all, trust me on this- true Southerners crave Grits from their bassinets to their deathbeds. Grits are the ultimate comfort food, considered a healing aid, a cure for the sick. I once heard my grandmother say, ‘I knew he was real sick, when he turned his nose up at a bowl of grits.’  Grits are like kinfolks, we sometimes take them for granted, they are the unsung companion to many a fine meal. Grits are the big-hearted, open-to-embellishment relative at the Southern table, it accepts additions graciously- butter, cheese, shrimp, crumbled sausage and bacon, even eggs have been poached in Grits’ Casseroles. Just remember, never sugar. There is a limit to even the most generous among us! You will never find Grits on a dessert table so why would you even think of adding sugar?  We southerners love our food, we talk about it- we pass recipes down and around; what we may have lacked in fortunes, was more than made up for on food laden tables, generously shared, eaten heartily without shame or daintily with lively conversation. Even when we’re eating out, someone will say ‘Here, try this’ – to say ‘No’ –is out of the equation you will just hear- ‘Really, you have to try this.’- as we put at least one bite over on the loved one’s plate. We can get downright biblical about food– someone once asked, ‘How many people will that pot of grits feed?’ The answer? ‘Oh honey, multitudes.’ Grits have served multitudes, down through Southern history- using the basic elements of fire, water, salt and that most ancient food- Corn. image

In my southern childhood innocence, there was no doubt Goldilocks interrupted the Three Bears’ breakfast of Grits, not porridge! Southern women have a distinct, almost unnatural fascination with ancestral food, like Grits. We rely on family recipes, our grandmothers’ ancient potions and mysterious cures. When prescriptions or modern medicine fail us- we offer Grits as part of a curative white diet, along with chicken broth, weak tea, ginger ale, soda crackers, rice, dry toast,mashed potatoes and scraped apple.image

When we cook Grits, we are communing with our ancestors; even when I am alone in my kitchen- the mothers, aunts and grandmothers are with me- informing me. Like taking care of a family- Grits have to be watched, tended to, kept moving- stirred gently with a languid patience, especially when they are absorbing the hot water of life. You learn to swirl the Grits into water that is at a rolling boil, then bring them down to a soft bubble- never stepping away from the simmer, taking the time to get it right, gently adding a bit of cool water if they start to thicken too soon- bring them to just the right consistency, turning off the flame, adding a bit of butter for richness; then covering with a lid almost like tucking them under a quilt. You learn this when you’re the cook, when you’re the nourishing caretaker of a husband, of a family or a community. You learn how much effort it takes to get it right, just from making a pot of Grits. The humble bowl of Grits-is proof that whether in a rundown shack, a double wide trailer, a lake house, a high rise beach condo or a country club- in the South we are all linked by a simple warm bowl of Grits.

You either like them or you don’t- but you can’t deny the allure of Grits- the generous big hearted food of the South is what culinary dreams are made of- in fact, I’m dreaming of having a Build Your Own Shrimp and Grits Party! We’ll top it with spicy shrimp, cheese, crumbled bacon, ham or Andouille  sausage- maybe some red eye gravy,  fried okra, bell peppers, finely diced purple onion and red tomatoes …what else? Well, my grits are getting cold…

Love y’all, Camellia

*quote from The Grits (Girls Raised in the South) Guide to Life by Deborah Ford with Edie Hand Product Details